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Traditional King Cake

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4 from 4 reviews

This easy Mardi Gras King Cake recipe is my favorite way to celebrate the Mardi Gras holiday. This New Orleans style cake is soft and fluffy! Decorated with purple, green and gold sprinkles, it's easy to understand why this cake is one of the best parts of the celebration!

  • Total Time: 2hrs + 45 min
  • Yield: 1 cake 1x


Units Scale

For the Dough

  • 1/4 oz of active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp OR 1 packet)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°F)
  • 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 8 oz full fat sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
  • 3 to 3 1/2 c bread flour (all purpose can also be used!)

For the Filling

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cream cheese, softened (butter can also be used)
  • 2-4 Tbsp milk
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract


  • Purple, green and gold sprinkles to decorate


  1. In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, stir together yeast, warm water, and sugar and let stand for 5 minutes. The yeast should become foamy and be 'activated' after that time.
  2. Add first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat OR into a microwave safe cup. Heat using the stove or microwave, stirring often until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat & cool down the mixture to 100° to 110°F.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, add the sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, egg and half of the flour.
  4. Give a quick stir with a spatula and then turn the mixer on medium speed. As the ingredients start to come together, reduce speed to low, and gradually add the remaining flour until a soft dough forms.
  5. Once the dough forms, lower the speed setting and allow the dough to knead until smooth and elastic (this can take up to 10 minutes). The dough should not be sticky or too dry. It should release from the sides of the bowl.
  6. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a linen cloth or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place (75-78° is ideal) for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
  7. After the dough is finished proofing, divide the dough in half.
  8. Roll a portion of dough into a long rectangle using a rolling pin (about 16" in length and 8-9" in width).
  9. Spread HALF of the ⅓ cup butter evenly on the rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border.
  10. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle HALF the amount evenly over the butter.
  11. Roll the dough (like a cinnamon roll) from the bottom up, ensuring a tight roll.
  12. Pinch the seam tightly.
  13. Repeat steps 8 - 12 with the other portion of dough.
  14. Next, form the cake. Place the dough rolls seam side down on a sheet lined with parchment. Pinch one of the ends together, and twist the dough logs over each other to give a braided look. Bring the other ends around together to form a ring, ensuring to make a good seal at the seam.
  15. Cover and let rise in a warm place again, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  16. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  17. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until golden.
  18. After the cake is done baking, allow to cool most of the way.
  19. Meanwhile, in a large bowl mix the glaze ingredients until smooth & creamy using a hand mixer.
  20. Pour glaze evenly over warm cake; sprinkle with colored sugars, alternating colors and forming bands.
  21. Let cool completely & serve.


Recipe adapted from:

This recipe originally made 2 cakes, but upon updating it I halved it, but as per feedback from readers, I kept the amount of filling the same which makes this cake even better.

If you want to make 2 cakes, simply double the ingredient amounts!

This cake is best served same day, but will store 2-3 days at room temp. The color of the sprinkles may bleed into the icing over time.